June 10, 2003

"Aimee Deep"

Aimee Deep is the "face" of the file-sharing program Aimster/Madster. I was intrigued by the discussion of the marketing tactic, as covered in FurdLog-1 and FurdLog-2, Matt Rolls-1, and Matt Rolls-2. The last being mentioned again recently in Matt's case commentary. That prompted me to write-up a little material I'd found. There's enough commentary on the case itself, I feel no great need to add to the pile.

The best source of information about "Aimster" the business, seems to be Evan Hoffman's page on "Why Aimster sucks" and other ponderables (http://www.evanhoffman.com/aimster/):

In case you don't know anything about me, I used to work at Aimster as one of two guys who developed Aimster's Mac client ... I no longer work at Aimster and they've really screwed me over. Rather than rehash the whole story in this space, I'll try to link to all the info I can find from here.

It's dangerous to get dragged into a "buzz" campaign, of Is-Aimee-Deep-real? That's just asking to be "used" with a dozen comments of is-she-or-isn't-she (and who knows for sure ...). Much more interesting (at least to me) is, say, a question of "How much sleazy marketing is being done by Aimster, especially maybe trying to get sympathy from horny geeks, while they rip off their programmers?" :-)

Now, it seems to be clear that John Deep, founder of Aimster/Madster, has a daughter by the name of Madeline who is now 18. There's a "Madeline Deep" listed as an honors graduate of Cohoes High School, same town where the company is located.

There's old business stories discussing the marketing, e.g. http://albany.bizjournals.com/albany/stories/2002/01/21/daily58.html

Deep said his daughter Aimee, whose real name is Madeline, will start going by her given name.

"Aimee's being called Madeline again," he said. "She's the Madster."

Deep said he'd nicknamed his 16-year-old daughter Aimee when she was a child. She has been the public face of the company and featured on the Aimster Web site in a bikini.

George Carpinello, Deep's attorney, said she can be called Aimee if she likes and Deep can sell other goods and services under that name.

So "Aimee" is not (or at least originally was not) her middle name.

There's an obscure comment on Matt's page which has some information that might warrant a greater audience. It's anonymous, but seems worthwhile:

As a former Aimster employee, I have a few things to mention:

1) Aimee Deep = Madeline Deep, John Deep's daugher (she exists, and is just a normal high school senior).

2) Madeline does not write the Musicpundit text; I'm reasonably certain that she doesn't even know the site exists.

3) Madeline is finishing her senior year of high school. If she shows up at a hearing Wed., I will be extremely surprised. My guess is that 'something' will come up. If she DOES show up, she won't be talking Aimster with anyone (because she doesn't know anything about it).

4) Your suspicions are correct. Aimee is an invented name that John (or someone) came up with after the AIM trouble. Early versions of Aimster were actually spelled AIMster. A few places in the code still use this spelling.

Aimee Deep is really just an invention of John's that happens to use his daughter as a public face. Among other things, think about that and you'll begin to get a clear picture of the kind of 'entrepreneur' he really is.

That last part ("the kind of 'entrepreneur' he really is"), is why I think there's some value in the subject of "Aimee Deep".

Now, is "Aimee Deep" worst than "Betty Crocker" or "Sarah Lee"? Abstractly, no, I can't see why. I can't even get too worked up over the teen-daughter aspect per se. Being a web-site "model" isn't bad, and there's no indication she feels exploited.

What bothers me is the sense that the "booth babe" replicant is being used in a manner beyond eye-candy, and into very slimy territory. Not because there's a picture of a girl in a bikini. Rather that we're told the product is to help that poor little girl (awwe ...), and later a sense that the T&A is being used as a distraction. It's manipulative enough to have an unsavory aspect, in my view.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in copyblight | on June 10, 2003 10:07 AM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Seth, Thanks for your observations. I'll try to learn from them. A few comments, if I may:

Deep down, Iím frightened. My family is involved in litigation with the biggest companies in the world, nearly broke, not even having an attorney.

Still, Iím trying to bring a message of digital rights to a broader audience of voters, contributors and citizens. How many people in the country or the world really know or care deeply about digital rights? Would it help if more did?

On a different note: One former employee is under a restraining order, accused of harming the company. How would you treat this employee, in fairness to other employees who worked to build the company? Would you prosecute him? Would you name him, when prospective employers do background checks on the Web?

And finally, Iíve only just turned 18, but Iíve been working for digital rights for nearly three years, and hope to keep working. You're an EFF honoree whose work I've admired for sometime. Any advice for me?

Posted by: Aimee Deep at June 11, 2003 10:21 PM